Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Thousand Words

The word photography derives from the Greek words ‘photos’ - meaning light and ‘graphien’ - to draw

Source: Steve McCurry
I remember seeing this cover of National Geographic in 1985, while visiting Pakistan. As I read the story, I realized that the Pukhtun girl with the haunting green eyes, was just north of me on the Afghan border, in a refugee camp. Afghanistan had been invaded by the Soviet Union and the country was a war zone. Her face wasn’t the only thing that troubled me – it was the fact that she was the same age as me, and she had lost everything. A picture does truly paint a thousand words, and with a glance she told us the story of war, death, fear, hunger and loss. It was this picture, taken by the talented photo journalist Steve McCurry, which got me interested in photography. Steve is widely recognized as one of the best photographers of our time, known for his ability to capture the human spirit on camera, and his evocative, color photography -- this picture was chosen as National Geographic’s 100 Best. When I got back to school I joined Mr. Yurkovich’s Photo Club and immersed myself in the world of cameras, lenses, film and the darkroom.
I, along with thousands of others rejoiced when Steve McCurry found Sharbat again, 17 years later – they verified it was truly her by obtaining verification through iris-scanning technology and face-recognition techniques used by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Over the years thousands of people wanted to adopt her, send her money or help her in some way. Although I was glad she’d been found, I was saddened. She was my age, yet she looked a decade older. When Steve saw her again, he showed her the picture for the first time. She had never seen the picture, nor know that her face had become an icon. Sharbat and her family where given financial assistance, and she returned to a remote region of Afghanistan with her husband and three daughters. She used part of the money to educate her daughters, so that they have a better future.

Although I did not pursue photography professionally, I still love taking pictures and photography plays a key role in my novel, SHOOTING KABUL.

No comments:

Post a Comment